News

Digging deep for the bushfire-hit

By David Rak

Fundraising farmer Matt Aldridge is gearing up local support in an inspiring effort to organise a much-needed hay convoy to assist fire-affected farmers who have suffered during the catastrophic bushfires.

Matt, a cattle farmer from Northwood just outside of Seymour, is well-known around the region for founding his charity, The Coo-Wee Ride, which raises awareness and funds for farmers and veterans suffering from mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

Matt’s annual charity bike ride, which has raised more than $50 000 for farmers and veterans since 2016, rode through Corryong and the surrounding areas two years ago.

“It’s shocking to think a lot of that beautiful area is now burnt. We know a lot of good people up that way and it’s very upsetting that they have to deal with another disaster,” Matt said.

The Coo-Wee Ride recently launched multiple fundraising initiatives, which include a Coo-Wee Ride Hay Convoy to support farmers in the Upper Murray region.

“We want to fill as many trucks with hay, pellets, fencing gear and other essential farming equipment to allow farms to continue to run and we want to get it up there as quick as we can,” Matt said.

Matt’s goal is to raise $50 000 for the convoy and has already started an online fundraising page on GiveNow.com.au, which has so far raised $2000 in less than two days.

Other fundraising initiatives will include a Rise from the Ashes charity concert being planned for Corryong’s community at the Colac Colac Caravan Park on February 29 and again on March 1.

“A lot of people would be there holidaying now but sadly they can’t be, so we want to try and bring them back by hosting a really fun concert to raise enough money and funds for the hay convoy and the town,” Matt said.

“I’ve already organised some top local acts but if anyone else would like to help sing their hearts out for our fellow farmers they can contact us through our website at cooweeride.org.au

“We had a drought relief concert in Khancoban late last year where a lot of locals that would now be affected by the fires put their hands in their own pockets and raised more than $7000, so this is our way of trying to give back.”

Matt thanked Luke and Jo Humphrey, Lee Eeles and Jodie Bonny for their support to help start organising the hay convoy.

“We’re just hoping everything will be safe for the concert and everyone has a good time,” Matt said

“In times of disaster, all you can really do is look out for each other and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

To donate, visit bit.ly/2N3Cqlt

You can find out more about the concert by visiting facebook.com/RFTA2020/